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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Identity politics and public disputation: a Baha'i missionary as a Muslim modernist in South Africa
Author:Jeppie, ShamilISNI
Periodical:Journal for Islamic Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:Islamic movements
interreligious relations
About person:Joseph Perdu
Abstract:This paper examines the Arabic Study Circle, which was founded in the early 1950s in Durban, South Africa, by a group of mainly Gujurati-speaking men who believed that learning the Arabic language was the key to independent reading and study of the Koran and other sources of Islamic thought. The article focuses on the role of a charismatic foreign visitor to the country who was employed by the Circle, Joseph Perdu. He gave the group a boost but also created many lasting problems for them. His 'national identity' (Iranian) or country of birth were unknown until after he left South Africa, as was his real or other religious identity (Baha'i). The paper shows how the public life of the organization could not continue to bear the ambiguity of the identity of Perdu. Ultimately, there were attempts to 'expose' the 'real' Perdu and therefore the 'real' Arabic Study Circle. The essay raises the question of public performances of identity and their relations to private pursuits of identity. Notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]